My name is Jelena, I’m 34 and I live in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, which is the biggest city in my country – it has more than 2 million people. I’m an English and Russian teacher and I work in my private language school, together with my husband.
How I learned
I learned to crochet first, at about 16 or 17 (I had done some knitting in Domestic Science in my elementary school, but I’d forgotten all about it by the time I really got interested in needlework). I remember that my very first serious project was actually a macrame bag which I’d seen in one of my mother’s needlework books. My mum hadn’t done much of it and she couldn’t teach me, so I just followed the instructions in the book and made the bag myself. After completing one out of wool, I decided to make a better one using rope (there’s a picture of that one below). I also included my two friends, so the three of us made the bags together, I showed them how to do it. We were all extremely happy when we finished them.
After that I got hooked on crocheting, especially round crochet – dish cloths, hats, doilies… but clothes as well. Again I used my mother’s books and learned practically everything from them. These two books are my invaluable treasure and a priceless gift from my mum as all my knowledge came from that source. After exhausting these books, I discovered lots of magazines and exploited them as much as I could.
As for the knitting, the interest came much later, maybe several years after I’d learned how to crochet. At first it was very difficult because I didn’t have hooks on my needles, so I was rather clumsy with my hands. But in time I got skilled and became as addicted as to crocheting. I’ve learned many stitches over the last decade and recently I got into knitting cables, bobbles and so called “Aran” knitting.
Now I use the Internet to get new ideas and I find it an incredible, constantly growing huge book of projects where people all around the world generously share their ideas with everyone who is into this kind of hobby.
Where I Get My Yarn
Here in Belgrade there are a lot of yarn shops, some big, some small, with a good selection of materials (cotton, wool, viscose, silk, mixed…) and tools (needles, hooks, buttons, beads, threads, scissors…) In my opinion, doing needlework is an affordable hobby, since there are cheaper and more expensive yarns. For example, the material for the red cotton dress I made cost about €15. Needlework has been popular in Serbia for centuries (especially weaving and embroidery which are mentioned in our national poetry and native folk songs) and they’ve been an absolute hit for the past few years, so the offer is really good.
Who I Knit and Crochet For
I usually knit and crochet for myself, family and friends. I did some projects for my friend’s kids and they loved their toys.
My priority is clothing – I don’t really fit the usual sizes of clothes that you can buy in shops, so I have to make something myself to have the perfect fit. But I also like making toys, bags, hats and I’m absolutely fascinated by hand made rugs. I’ve made three so far – in crochet technique.
I always have several projects going on at the same time. So, right now I’m finishing a summer dress crocheted in rounds with asymmetrical lower edge, a knitted sweater for my husband, a woolly hat for my goddaughter and I’m about to finish a mosaic rug which has been in process for a few years…
Needlecrafting Family and Friends
My grandmother was a very skilled sewer, knitter and crocheter. She worked in a knitting factory, she had a sewing and knitting machine at home and she made loads of things for my mother, my uncle, me, herself and many other people. I suppose I take after her when it comes to needlework. Unfortunately, she was very ill at the time I became interested in it so she couldn’t teach me, but I managed to pick up some of her ideas, tips and my mum and I saved lots of her projects.
Some of my students are also beginner knitters and crocheters, so apart from English lessons, I also give them needlecraft or stitching lessons and advice when I have time. It makes me very happy to be a teacher in any way I can.